OTTAWA — His testimony was to be expected, and it was explosive. The ex-minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould said Wednesday they have been the object of pressure, “constant and sustained” — including “veiled threats” — on the part of the office of the prime minister, the privy Council office and the office of the minister of Finance to avoid a trial at SNC-Lavalin.
“For about four months between September and December 2018, efforts constant and sustained have been made by several people in government to interfere politically […] in an effort improper attempt to obtain a prosecution agreement suspended [APS] with SNC-Lavalin,” she blurted as soon as the first minute of his testimony.
“There were about 10 phone calls and 10 meetings specifically on SNC-Lavalin. […] And in the course of these conversations, explicit statements about the folder SNC-Lavalin, the potential consequences [of a trial], and veiled threats if we didn’t get APS to CNS”, continued Ms. Wilson-Raybould.
The tone was set. And in the course of this long appearance before the standing committee on justice and human rights, which lasted almost four hours, she says, “his truth”, that she was eager to deliver since this case broke, there are now nearly three weeks.
In his account of the events, she particularly focused on an exchange she had with the prime minister last September 17. The summit meeting was to focus on other issues, but quickly, Justin Trudeau has raised the record of the engineering firm in quebec, she recounted.
He referred to the negative consequences that could have a lawsuit on the company, including the loss of thousands of jobs, and impacts on suppliers, and explained that if SNC-Lavalin did not prosecution agreement suspended (ASP), it would leave Montreal, where it has its headquarters.
But this is when Justin Trudeau has ventured into a policy terrain that Jody Wilson-Raybould has said to have been shaken to the core. According to her, it would be referred to the provincial election that was coming up in Quebec, and then the prime minister would have said to him this : “I am an mp in quebec”, which was “taken aback”.
It is then, still according to his version of the facts, she looked at her boss in the eyes and asked him : “Are you trying to interfere politically in my role [of attorney general]?” — what the prime minister is said to have replied, “no, no, no, we just want to find a solution” to the problem of SNC-Lavalin.
One that is once again a simple member since his resignation from the cabinet on 12 February last, stated that the pressures on it and its staff continued. In October, Mathieu Bouchard, adviser to the prime minister’s office, pleaded with his chief of cabinet that the folder had to be set.
“If SNC announced that he was leaving [the Quebec] six months prior to the election [federal], that would be bad. We can have the best policies in the world, but we need to be re-elected”, he argues, has told the former minister.
Then intervened the former principal secretary Gerald Butts, who resigned from his duties in the wake of this case, and the chief of staff Katie Telford — arguably the two most influential people in the office of Justin Trudeau. They have convened emergency Jessica Prince, the ex-cabinet chief Jody Wilson-Raybould, at the Chateau Laurier hotel, December 18.
“They wanted to know if I was coming up with a solution. They said that the situation is corsait,” said Ms. Wilson-Raybould. Then, she shared the contents of a text message that his close associate sent him to the end of the meeting : “Basically, they want a solution, know if you can review the decision of the DPP [director of public prosecutions]”.
In conclusion, she wished that “Canadians understand very well that these events [the story of the exchanges on which SNC-Lavalin] represented a political interference” that has no place in a system of law. “I am a person who tells the truth. This is who I am, and this is who I’ll always be”, she started.
TRUDEAU “DISAGREE” WITH THE WITNESS
The prime minister Justin Trudeau said he “disagreed” with the testimony of the ex-minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould. Mr. Trudeau admits to having discussed the file of SNC-Lavalin with its former attorney general, given the 9000 jobs in the game. He said, however, that it is the responsibility of the former attorney general of Canada to settle in this folder. “The decision was left to him alone. […] I still maintain that I and my staff have acted appropriately and professionally,” said Mr. Trudeau in a press conference in Montreal on Wednesday night. “I’m absolutely not agree with the conclusions of Ms. Wilson-Raybould,” said the prime minister.
SCHEER REQUIRES THE RESIGNATION OF THE PM
The leader of the conservatives Andrew Scheer calls for the resignation of Justin Trudeau. The prime minister has lost the “moral authority” to govern the country, he decided. Because, in his opinion, Jody Wilson-Raybould has brushed the portrait of a prime minister who “leaves his motivations are partisan political move ahead of his duty to uphold the law.”